A blood cancer diagnosis is devastating, disrupting, and an emotional rollercoaster – just ask Barry Du Bois, Elle Halliwell, Briony Benjamin, Luke Brattan and Lydney Milan OAM.
Together, with the Leukaemia Foundation, these well-known Australians are uniting this Blood Cancer Month to share one simple message with fellow Aussies impacted by blood cancer – you are not alone.
Diagnosed with a rare blood cancer Solitary Plasmacytoma in 2010, and later the incurable blood cancer Myeloma in 2017, TV personality Barry has been through his fair share of treatment.
“When you’re told you have an incurable blood cancer, you’ll do everything in your power to give yourself an extra second, day, week or even month to spend with your family,” said Barry.
“I’ve been through surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. It’s been incredibly tough emotionally, mentally and physically, and my fight is not over.”
Barry credits his family for their support and for giving him the strength to get through, but he’s aware that not all people with blood cancer have the same unwavering support around them.
In response to the need for greater support for blood cancer patients and their loved ones, the Leukaemia Foundation launched Australia’s first and only blood cancer support line in 2022.
According to CEO Chris Tanti, the blood cancer support line has been a positive addition to the services offered by the Leukaemia Foundation, especially considering recent research.
“We know that seven in 10 people with blood cancer face emotional challenges, and almost 40% have a lot of questions or feel completely uncertain about their diagnosis,[i]” he said.
“The blood cancer support line helps to ensure that every single Australian facing blood cancer knows that they are not alone.
“They can easily access the Leukaemia Foundation’s services and support no matter where they live, or what stage they are at in their treatment journey. We’re only a phone call away.”
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) this week confirmed that 19,500 Australians will be newly diagnosed with blood cancer this year – an increase of close to 100 people since 2022.[ii]
“The incidence of blood cancer is on the rise with more Australians experiencing the devastation of a blood cancer diagnosis than ever before, and they need our help,” Mr Tanti said.
For well-known Aussies Elle, Briony, Luke and Lyndey, the pain of blood cancer has impacted them all in different and devastating ways.
“In 2016, my life changed in an instant and my world was thrown upside down,” said Elle.
“I went from being a successful journalist, to being diagnosed with a chronic and incurable blood cancer, to then discovering I was pregnant with my first child, all in the space of just 48 hours.”
Elle is now blessed with her beloved son Tor but lives with the daily highs and lows of chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) – a blood cancer she may live with for the rest of her life.
“I’m eternally grateful for the support and access to services that I’ve had since I was diagnosed.
“I could not have got through the past seven years without my family and friends, and organisations like the Leukaemia Foundation, who have been with me every step of the way.”
The Leukaemia Foundation offers access to life-changing, wraparound health services including emotional, health and wellbeing support, practical support, and the ability to connect with others who understand what you are going through in a safe and supportive environment.
Mr Tanti added that latest research confirms that access to the right information and supportive care can lead to a better quality of life and a higher chance of survival for blood cancer patients.[iii]
“Whether you’re living with blood cancer, undergoing treatment, in remission, a carer, or grieving the loss of a loved one, our highly skilled blood cancer support professionals are available to guide you through the emotional, physical, and psychosocial challenges of blood cancer.”
Anyone impacted by blood cancer, at any age and stage, can contact Australia’s blood cancer support line Monday to Friday via calling 1800 620 420 or visit bloodcancer.org.au. #YouAreNotAlone #ThisIsBloodCancer
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